I’ve been struggling with getting all of the nursing hours for which I’m prescribed and authorized filled. I haven’t had all the hours covered since 2017. Nurses have been able to get paid more in hospitals and nursing homes—up to $15 more per hour—for a while now. I’ve had some of my favorite nurses leave home care for jobs elsewhere because of the pay. And since COVID, it has definitely been worse. I’m down to having a night nurse three times per week, when I’m authorized to have one every night. This puts incredible strain on my parents, who must stay up during that time to ensure that I am safe, and then still go to work the next day. They have to choose between putting my health and safety in danger, or being able to go to work to provide for their family on a full night of sleep.

I contracted COVID in September of last year and had to stay in the ICU for two weeks. That was incredibly difficult because since I have had home nursing, I haven’t had to go to the hospital often—which is a blessing. I forgot how much I dislike it. It feels cold and unwelcoming, and unfamiliar—and it definitely makes me remember how much more comfortable life is at home, surrounded by my parents and loved ones, and the nurses that are like family to me. Staying in the hospital also makes me think about the many other North Carolinians—little kids, seniors, and people my age—that benefit so much from home nursing, and from being able to stay in an environment that is familiar and comfortable to them. What happens to them and their families as their struggles to access nursing during COVID too?

There are many people like me that have asked their lawmakers to support better PDN funding. The state knows that PDN keeps NC residents like me safe at home, and how much less costly it is for them than a nursing home or hospital costs. They know it’s better for kids to grow up at home and how much more dangerous it is for them to grow up in a facility. So why is it that the PDN program isn’t funded better? My nurses have allowed me to live as normal and healthy of a life as possible. They love home care and the one-on-one care they can provide to keep families together, but they struggle to stay in the industry. I think that the legislature should vote to fund it better so that more nurses can enter the field and see how impactful their care is to families like mine.

Dimpal Patel
Belmont, NC